The arrival of harsh winters in Kashmir marks the beginning of the process of making and selling smoked fish, locally known as Phari — one of the age-old winter delicacies of Kashmir.
The process begins with catching fish, which are then laid on layers of dry grass shaped in the form of a platform. Soon, hundreds of kilograms of fish are smoked by setting the dry grass alight.
After leaving the fish to dry in the sun, they are ready to be sold in the market, making it a good source of income for fish sellers during the season.
On bringing the smoked fish home, they are cleaned properly and the outer smoked layer is scraped, usually by the women who are experts in cleaning for many years.
The delicacy is cooked along with tomatoes, radish, or most commonly with haakh (collard greens) mixed with lots of spices and later enjoyed with steamed hot rice.
Smoked fish along with dried vegetables like tomatoes, brinjal, gourd, turnips etcetera is stored by Kashmiri families to survive the extreme winter season.
Writing by Zenaira Bakhsh